Hot Topics: Help With a Leaky Faucet After Freeze
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Original Post: Help with a leaky faucet after freeze
I have a burst pipe from after a long deep freeze. It only leaks when the outside spigot is turned on, but what has me confused is that the leak shows wetness in the Sheetrock about two inches below the ceiling. If the frost-proof spigot burst, why is it leaking way up there? Is this a DIY fix or should I get the plumber involved?
"It only leaks when the outside spigot is turned on"
That tells me that the burst section is in fact in the frost-proof section of the faucet unit and most likely not your actual feed pipe. It probably is traveling along the pipe until it meets the Sheetrock wall. I'm thinking water was trapped in the frost-proof section. Maybe it was not fully shut off or is slightly inclined towards the house.
Let me elaborate a bit. The outside spigot is about two feet above ground level, but the water is leaking up near the ceiling. When you said it's following the pipe, how is it climbing up nearly six feet?
Then you have a leak somewhere else! What else is fed off the same supply line? And how sure are you that every time you turn on the faucet you have water coming through the wall? Can it be coincidence that maybe you have a roof leak? Roof leaks can be tricky and can follow wood beams and show up in completely strange places. What other plumbing might be in the area? Maybe some pictures will be helpful.
There has been no rain or roof melt-off in the last few days. The walls and floor were completely dry before I went outside to power wash my truck. When I came back inside, water was all over the garage floor and laundry room. There were also water marks in the Sheetrock up to about 7'6" or so on the garage side and laundry room side of the wall they have in common. I turned off the spigot and no more water has appeared. The spigot supply line runs inside the common wall between the laundry room and the garage. The only possibility that comes to mind is that the rupture is literally shooting the water up six feet or so, hitting the Sheetrock, and then running down the inside. Are all the mechanisms for a frost-free spigot always down at the spigot level? Or could there be some other sort of mechanism up near the division between the basement level (it's a walk-out basement so the spigot is at ground level in regards to the basement floor) and the first floor where the water marks are from the obvious leak? I would rather just cut one hole in my wall and want to know should I go.
"The only possibility that comes to mind is that the rupture is literally shooting the water up six feet or so, hitting the Sheetrock, and then running down the inside."
It's a possibility—if the water pressure is high enough. If it were me, I would remove and inspect the frost-proof spigot first. All the mechanics are located in the frost-proof spigot. If something else in the wall or if the piping in the wall is exposed to freezing weather, then that also could be ruptured. BUT, you say it only shows water damage when the spigot is used. That is your point of contact and your problem. The water that has already been hitting the wall may be extensive enough that you may have to remove the drywall and replace. Can you send pics of the spigot and the wall that shows water damage?
Here are some images. The water marks used to go up over seven feet, but now are almost dry.
Pilot Dane Group Moderator
If you put a nozzle on the end of your hose and aim it straight up, adjusting the nozzle to get the stream of water as high as possible, you'll see how high water can spray up inside a wall cavity. I assume your house is a brick veneer. There is usually a hollow space between your interior wood walls and the exterior brick. That means there is a totally open space for water to spray up.
Can you show us a pic from inside the house where the spigot is located in the basement? I'm betting you'll see a rupture and possibly wet wood or insulation.
Well, it's exactly as guessed. The frost-free spigot burst at the 12 o'clock position and was spraying water straight up, hence the watermarks way up there.
Pilot Dane Group Moderator
Leaving a hose attached to the spigot is usually the cause of them bursting. If you remove the hose in the fall, the water can drain out of the faucet body so there's nothing to freeze.
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